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87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vitally important and accessible assessment of psychiatry.
Richard Bentall pieces together evidence from an impressive array of sources to provide a critical yet accessible evaluation of the current state of psychiatry. This book is not a scathing anti-psychiatry rant. Bentall lucidly examines the mental health literature, before concluding that a) mental health practitioners often fail their patients - he is self-critical and...
Published on 27 Aug 2009 by Dave

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A partisan critque of psychiatry
Richard Bentall is a pscyhologist well known for his critical view of the psychiatric and biological approach to mental illness. Starting with a history of the development of various schools of thought on mental illness, he goes on to criticise at length the approach taken by psychiatrists. The book is readable and well referenced, but his bias is clear throughout. I'm...
Published on 27 Sep 2011 by F. Martin


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87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vitally important and accessible assessment of psychiatry., 27 Aug 2009
By 
Dave (Wirral, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctoring the Mind (Hardcover)
Richard Bentall pieces together evidence from an impressive array of sources to provide a critical yet accessible evaluation of the current state of psychiatry. This book is not a scathing anti-psychiatry rant. Bentall lucidly examines the mental health literature, before concluding that a) mental health practitioners often fail their patients - he is self-critical and modest about his own treatment successes and failures and b) this failure is often borne out of rigid adherence to the neo-kraeplinian, biomedical school of psychopathology; an approach which is underpinned by pharmaceutical companies and their marketing strategies. Psychiatric diagnosis is a difficult process, the author - who favours a symptom-focused model - believes these difficulites arise from the inefficiencies, limitations and unsuitability of the disorder-based, biomedical paradigm of mental health. The efficacy of both pharmacological and psychosocial treatments is also comprehensively challenged - alongside the chapters on psychiatric diagnosis, these topics form large sections of the book.

In essence, the book provides a basic framework for an holistic approach to the treatment of mental illness. Bentall seeks to educate, empower and treat the psychiatric patient, perceiving them as individuals with diverse and often distressing life experiences who are deserved of fundamental human rights, rather than as deviants lacking the cognitive prowess to make decisions relating to their treatment who cannot/shouldn't be trusted to tell the truth about their symptoms and life experiences. A nurturing, trusting, compassionate, patient/client-centred approach is promoted as a key component of treatment success, regardless of the treatment modality. Adopting the author's approach is likely to be beneficial to the patient-practitioner relationship because it engenders a sense of mutual trust and respect which would probably improve treatment compliance, appointment attendance, the patient's self-esteem and perhaps even treatment outcome.

It is impossible to do justice to this book in such a short review because the diversity and depth of the subject matter, as well as the author's warm and humane tone cannot be reviewed nor conveyed. This book is a must for the psychiatrist, the psychologist, the psychiatric patient and anybody else who is interested in psychopathology. Doctoring the Mind is an important text which asks probing questions about mental health practices, that could also be used as a springboard to improved policies. This book is suitable for the layperson.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather good, I'd say, 1 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Doctoring the Mind (Hardcover)
I read Richard Bentall's previous book, Madness Explained also highly readable, and once again he convincingly re-humanises people classified as 'psychiatric patients', people that psychiatry itself seems to want to stigmatise and demonise, sometimes for reasons that have little to do with helping peope and everything to do with advancing the interests of psychiatry and Big Pharma. He argues that there is no clear dividing line between the mad and the sane, that we all exist at points along a spectrum of mental health that ebb and flow, in part at least, in relation to our life experiences. Most importantly, I think, he emphasises the role of human kindness as a crucial factor in helping those in distress, rather than simply relegating them with a highly unscientific diagnostic label to some kind of sub-human.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent insightful book, 27 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail (Paperback)
I wanted to learn more about what lies behind the medical model (professional) front of mental illness and this book demystifies so much of that. I found it a fascinating and insightful read in to what is a fascinating topic - our mental health. A ground breaking approach into informing people about mental illness and telling what goes on behind the wall of 'the mental health care system - history and present.' I'm so glad I read this book so many of my assumptions and beliefs (ignorance) about the mental health system were wiped out by this most profound book. Now I have a far greater and well needed understanding of how the system 'is' I am able to make much more informed and knowledge based decisions about my relatives health with a far clearer understanding and confidence in myself because of what I have learned from this book.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging text, 23 July 2009
This review is from: Doctoring the Mind (Hardcover)
This is, in my opinion, an important book. Bentall reviews a number of areas related to contemporary psychiatry and clinical psychology, and he highlights some of the major areas of controversy between practitioners in these disciplines. It is beyond my competence to assess whether all his conclusions are correct. Indeed, given the diversity of topics covered, I doubt whether many readers will feel competent to draw definitive conclusions.

The central issue arising from this book relates to the validity or otherwise of reductionist accounts of both normal and abnormal behaviour, i.e. the extent to which behaviour can or cannot be explained in terms of the detailed analysis of brain functioning at the neuronal level. Over the last 40 years mainstream psychology has undergone a "paradigm shift' in which reductionist accounts of behaviour have become less influential. Bentall's book reflects this change, and it represents a considerable challenge to conventional psychiatrists, who typically adopt a more reductionist philosophical approach, focussed in particular on drug treatment.

Since the 1970s there have not really been major advances in psychopharmacology, and some of the major ones such as the development of the clozapine-like "atypical/second generation" antipsychotics seem to be progressively disappearing, after much hype, in a cloud of smoke, leaving some puzzled and confused. In part, as Bentall documents, this is due to the malign influence of the pharmaceutical industry which has done itself no favours at all by e.g. i) Rigging clinical trials by the use of inappropriate (high) comparator doses of older drugs in trials investigating the actions of novel drugs, and ii) Lack of attention to serious adverse side effects such as weight gain and diabetes. A strong case can be made for the psychiatric profession and psychopharmacologists in general paying much more attention to what we often do NOT know about many psychoactive drugs - most efficacious doses, mechanisms of action involved in their therapeutic and side effects, consequences of co-administration of two or often more drugs, effects of drug withdrawal, abuse of antipsychotics when administered at high doses to the elderly, interactions of drugs with psychological therapies et alia. Such studies will clearly not be conducted by the pharmaceutical industry and thus will have to be state funded. The best psychiatrists do address the issues described above, and they attempt to deal with the problem of reductionism by marrying neuronal ideas to functional psychological concepts, although they are relatively few and far between. Ideally, Bentall's book would lead to a rapprochement between psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, although given its rather strident tone this appears highly unlikely to happen at present! In the meantime it is probably essential reading for all trainee clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, for interested lay readers as well as individuals in receipt of therapy.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, interesting and very readable., 29 July 2009
By 
F. Beesley (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctoring the Mind (Hardcover)
Informative, interesting and very readable.

Firstly, I think it is important for me to state my interest, as it were. I am a clinical psychologist who works in the NHS, have been reading the work of Richard Bentall for a number of years and agree with his overall philosophy about mental health issues.

Despite the above I think that I can still comment and recommend this book, like most of the other reviewers, on a number of levels:
* As my title suggests, it is informative, interesting, and very readable
* Richard writes well and conveys some very complex information in a format that I think non-professionals would find helpful. He has an uncanny knack of explaining some quite complex material in a way that the reader can understand them, me included, for example, when he briefly explains some statistics in the book)
* The book is interspersed with anonymous accounts of Richard's work with different clients over the years and these bring the debates in each of the chapters to life
* When talking about his clients he is humble enough to admit that, "I suspect that the time we have spent together has often been of more benefit to me than them"
* The book is not just a tirade or polemic as it is well referenced throughout and he clearly states his interests and biases

For those who were wondering about the format of the book; Part 1, covering four chapters, deals with the history of psychiatric care and asks whether psychiatry has made a significantly positive impact upon people who suffer from mental health problems. Part 2, covering three chapters, discusses the psychiatric diagnostic system, psychiatric difficulties and whether they can be said to be genetically determined or viewed as "brain diseases". Part 3, covering four chapters, talks about the conflict of interests in researching new ways of helping people with mental health problems, especially focusing on the pharmaceutical industry, specifically looks at one class of medications (antipsychotics), then explores how effective psychotherapy is for people suffering from experiences that could be labelled psychosis and finally asks about what can be done to improve services for people struggling with mental health problems in the 21st century.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if you think you can handle one that is a little longer and maybe a bit more academically written (as it is extremely well referenced); his last book Madness Explained is just as good.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sense about madness, 11 July 2010
By 
J. Rogers (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail (Paperback)
Excellent book, clearly and authoritatively written by someone who can review the research with a clear eye untainted by payments from Big Pharma. Liked the honesty and the personal tone and willingness to admit when the true answer is 'we don't know'.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 26 Oct 2009
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This review is from: Doctoring the Mind (Hardcover)
It is only as I began to study psychology and strategic solution focussed approaches based on what resources the client brings that I began to comprehend the fact that the mind has been medicalised to such an extent. Having worked with people who have been in psychiatric care, I am convinced that education before/instead of medication is the way forward. By empowering individuals about how they can control their own cortisol levels and raise their own serotonin as well as the importance of challenging 'mind maps' that don't serve them well it is amazing how 'seriously depressed' individuals make rapid improvements. Good therapists, psychologists and indeed psychiatrists see a person not a problem. Medicating the mind disempowers and stigmatises, while at times medication may be necessary it is often the first port of call rather than the last.

Richard Bentall's book is a must for all those who work within the medical model, even if it proves a challenge. Lots of money and power at stake here, and those within the medical model can help change this.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars doctoring the mind revealed, 30 Aug 2009
By 
H. C. Strange (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctoring the Mind (Hardcover)
This is an objective and very well-documented look at the practice of prescribing anti-psychotic medicine, its side effects and withdrawal complications. A very much needed warning to both psychiatrists and patients to go about prescribing and using these very commonly used drugs with great caution. In addition, the medicines' effectiveness is questioned. Anyone in the profession and their patients are in for a shock.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and shocking, 11 Aug 2012
This review is from: Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail (Paperback)
I would recommend everyone (really, everyone) to read this book, especially if one is mentally ill, or knows another who is mentally ill.

This book opens the door on how patients have been treated, not by which treatment assists them the most, but on how Doctors and Physicians have twisted the truth to make patients fit their own theoretical models of how mental illness works, possibly for the benefit of their own publication record or personal glory in books and journals. The chapter on schizophrenia alone made me terrified, more so since I have a friend who suffers from this illness, and I can understand the disorientation and suffering they are going through, whilst physicians vainly try and make their symptoms fit their beloved "Theory".

A wake up call to all persons who are interested in their own mental health, and that of their loved ones and society in general, in the face of "we know best" medicine and shocking misuse and avoidance of facts.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychiatrists versus psychologists, 29 July 2010
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This review is from: Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail (Paperback)
Now I know the difference between these two clinicians I think I am better placed to understand my mental health and the treatments that I receive. Bentall basically believes that mental illness isn't a disease of the brain and shouldn't, mostly, be treated with drugs, which he thinks are at best useless and at worst harmful. Instead he thinks mental ill-health is mostly a result of our environment and experiences and so he advocates therapy and especially the simple expedient of human kindness and empathy. I can understand that, but I do believe that medication has helped me and I don't know where I would be without it. Still, this is a very insightful and humane book.
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Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail
Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail by Richard P Bentall (Paperback - 3 Jun 2010)
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